Born in the hamlet of Taleford, Devon, England, Joanna Southcott would have to wait 42 years before she would discover that she possessed ‘supernatural gifts’, gifts she would use to predict future events and eventually the end of the world, well, according to the voices she heard in her head.
She would write and dictate her prophecies in the form of rhymes before suddenly claiming that she was the Woman of the Apocalypse spoken of in a prophetic passage of the Revelation (12:1–6). She was invited to London by artist and engraver William Sharp, where she began publishing her own books.
As well as her books, Southcott began selling paper “seals of the Lord”, these seals were supposed to ensure the holders’ places among the 144,000 people who would apparently be elected to eternal life, for a small charge of course.
This would attract a following of as many as 100,000 believers and in 1813 she would make an announcement that would signal the last days of the Earth, as she would be giving birth to the second Messiah, despite being 64 years old and, according to her, still a virgin.
Southcott claimed that on the 19th of October 1814 she would deliver the new Messiah, the Shiloh of Genesis and the world would soon end. However, that date came and went, and the only thing that ended was Southcott’s life, as she would die just two months later on the 27th of December 1814 without producing any Messiah’s.
Her death would not be the end as far as her followers were concerned, as they were convinced that they needed to retain her body as she would be raised from the dead. Unsurprisingly, she was not resurrected and her followers eventually agreed to bury her due to the fact that her corpse was starting to badly decay.